Thursday, 21 March 2013

Do you write letters anymore...the old fashioned way?

Recently I read somewhere that letter writing improves your brain function, in particular cursive writing. However most schools no longer teach cursive writing goodbye cursive writing in spite of the fact students that use it do better on most tests.

For me it is all about the personalization of writing, and that means mostly on a personal level. Letters, short notes to friends, thank you notes, these are all places we can use our cursive writing skills. Even at work I love the opportunity to hand write a note to express my thanks for a job well done, or a donation someone made because they cared. I figure if they care enough to do a job well, or to make a contribution to something, they deserve a note from me. It takes but a moment or two from your day. I was noticing however that my writing skills were deteriorating, and sometimes even I had trouble reading what I wrote. Even though I use a moleskine (I love quality) to write down notes at meetings and track events, my handwriting is getting worse.

So I made a pledge to myself. To write at least one letter a week. The first week was pretty easy and I managed to get short notes off to a couple of old friends, sent a newspaper clipping to my son and a birthday card to another son. It is also a good excuse to use up all the note cards I have been saving for some 'special occasion'. I even went out and bought some special paper and envelopes to make it feel more festive for me. Sort of like setting the kitchen table for an everyday meal, because every meal should be a celebration.

Of course writing the letter is not the end of the process, you have look up the address. I found this bit intrigued me, even though I can drive to your house, I can visualize your house, I didn't know the address. We have become dependent on technology like GPS in our iPhones or TomTom devices. We often don't even refer to maps any longer as a navigation device, which really puts my partner in a tizzy as he loves to navigate the 'old fashioned way'. And I must admit it is far more reliable than some devices. So I got out my trusty iPhone and looked for addresses, and the ones I didn't have I used the internet for. A real combination of new technology and tradition.

We must not forget the stamp, and although the price has increased considerably the technology is the same, well almost, no more licking required. I do love the self adhesive stamps. This will require a trip to the post office or a retailer that carries said stamps, and finally to the box which swallows up your letter and upon some miracle delivers it to the final destination. Hopefully in a reasonable space of time. I realized it takes time, commitment and resources to mail a letter, and so it is not surprising that it is becoming a thing of the past.

Letter writing is only one way to practise cursive writing. Many people still write daily journals, and I must admit I romanticize that I would be a good journal writer, but I lack the discipline to stay at it. I think I must have several journals that I started but never stayed with. I suppose if you put them all together there might be something interesting there. I think I will leave that for when I die, the kids might find some juicy tidbit that makes them say, " wow, Mom did that?" Shake them up a little bit.

Recently a good friend got her note and dropped me an email saying how it had arrived at just the right time. She has been going through a difficult period in her life and the note made her feel valued and loved. Just as it was intended to do.  I will continue to write my letters and mail them. There is something very satisfying about the clunk that box makes when I drop my letter in it. Everyone loves to get unexpected mail, especially when it is not a bill or junk mail ( make sure you check your junk mail if you know might be hiding a letter inside). Hopefully you can read my writing.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What is 'rape culture'?

Today my daughter posted a link on Facebook and the title intrigued me - ' So you're tired of hearing about 'rape culture'. It is an excellent blog that I thought is was worth re-posting. It is a very thought provoking blog that brings together many examples of what the writer feels defines rape culture and the resulting comments are almost as interesting as the article. One person commented that:

"in the case where athletes are involved, you usually see a concerted effort to defend the rapist, blame the victim, and cover up the crime. This is where I feel the “culture” part comes in. Like when OJ was found not guilty. People cheered, even though the evidence was against him, because he was a cherished, former athlete. Or when church abuse victims are threatened and ostracized for coming forward and tarnishing the reputation of a priest."

This actually speaks to the 'culture' or societal norms that are being tolerated or even embraced by groups and individuals. What is happening in a community that speaks up and defends such behaviour? More important is the question: what can we do to change it? Sometimes these issues seem so overwhelmingly large or impossible to change by yourself, that we just don't try.

Each of us can make a difference and contribute to a healthier culture, and it starts with your own thinking and your own language and what you are willing to stand by and allow to happen. I gave birth to five pretty amazing children, three girls and two boys. My first priority with them was to always teach them to be kind and to give to your community and support and defend others when needed. To be fearless when the time came to stand up and say ' STOP - this is wrong". I hope I got it right, because for me they are one more step towards positive change. They are a way to break the cycle. I believe that they ARE kind, and I believe they would make that stand. I would, and they know it, I have shown them how to do it.

So....lead by example. Don't just read about these events and think how awful they are. Make a conscious decision about how to act, talk and think in your relationships; with your children, siblings, parents, co-workers, partners, teammates. Be thoughtful. Be kind. Be THE difference.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Looking back, not always forward can be rewarding too

The New Year is here and many people have bid farewell to 2012, with statements like 'don't let the door hit your ass on the way out'! Personally I have felt that way about most years, however this year I have decided that making time for reflection and not resolutions for a new and better me, or a new and better year is the way forward for me. I was out walking Jazz in the snowy rain this morning and just letting my mind wander, I guess this is a type of meditation for me, my body is moving and my mind is just free flying with no particular purpose except to walk the dog and get some fresh air. I started thinking about the past year and all the new things I have done or at least attempted, and it was so surprising to me that I decided I should list them. And it became a very rewarding and fulfilling activity. I think everyone who is feeling negative about the past year, should make a list of all the good things that happened, the achievements made, no matter the size or significance and not allow any of the bad or negative intrude. I believe we can surprise ourselves. So for the record in no particular order here is my list for 2012:

1. moved in with the great love of my life after 12 years of dating
2. went tidal bore rafting on the Bay of Fundy with my niece
3. went to Nova Scotia and discovered that while my family were Cap' Bretoners they came via Newfoundland, so I am actually part newfie!
4. started writing a book
5. started studying the harp
6. attended more of my grandsons hockey games than ever before
7. made the perfect creme brûlée
8. saw my last child move out of the house and make the awesome decision to go to college
9. visited my great grandad's grave, and then toured the coal mines and heard the story that would have shaped his life, a very hard life it must have been
10. went foraging for mushrooms with Wayne and experienced the beautiful, serene landscape that is unique to our part of the world
11. had my favourite Aunt and Uncle come to the lake for a wonderful visit
12. found out I was going to be a great grandmother
13. facetime with my grandson Logie!
14. hosting 21 guests in the month of July alone, just because they love us and miss us
15. hearing that my son finally was able to realize his dream of beginning the journey of plumber apprenticeship
16. seeing my daughter and her guy pass the magical year of one successful year of operating a restaurant in Toronto
17. seeing another daughter get accepted into her chosen program at university
18. watching a partner family settle into their new home through Habitat for Humanity Stratford Perth
19. proudly watching one daughter do the 'right thing' even though it was risky for her to do it
20. found out on Christmas Day I am going to be a grandmother again!
21. planted and harvested my first vegetable garden in many, many years
22. converted the attic so we can have the whole family and friends over for good times
23. Jazzy got fit from all the hiking, and we improved too
24. watched the class of 2012 graduate from the Stratford Chefs School, knowing I participated in their dreams
25. decorated my new home for Christmas, for our family to enjoy
26. participating in Maple Tree Community Housing as a board member, providing safe, affordable housing for 12 families
27. spending quality time with good friends on many different occasions
28. cooking with Wayne
29. supported a local business by purchasing a CSA
30. went whale watching
31. visited Peggy's Cove
32. watched my grandson run for a block in his squeaky shoes -so much fun
33. attended the Rocky Horror Show at the Livery
34. watched our town continue to recover from the tornado, with hundreds of tree plantings, transforming the downtown, new houses built, people regain a sense of optimism
35. smiled ALOT more

I know there are plenty of others I could add to the list, but this is a good start. I would encourage you to create your own list. And if I was going to make a resolution for the new would be to consciously or intentionally do something nice for someone every day. In fact doing it for someone you love and know and not just strangers can be more challenging. I know from my days in sales that often we treat relative strangers better then we do our own family. Make an effort to get it right this year. I plan to.